Lawler: A dead body and a resignation

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(Image via abc.net.au)

Peter Wicks discusses the resignation of Fair Work Commission vice president Michael Lawler, amidst the discovery of a dead body in his home, on the eve of the deadline to respond to parliament on his conduct. 

THE JACKSONVILLE SAGA has been a hotbed of sex, drugs, corruption, extravagant lifestyles, political espionage and even an attempted coup, about the only thing it lacked was a corpse.

This week, that changed.

At 11.30am on Wednesday morning police were called to the Wombara residence of Kathy Jackson and Michael Lawler to find the body of Shaun Fischer. The time or cause of death is unclear at the moment and the incident has been described in a police statement as a ‘medical episode’. Apparently a more vague description was unavailable at the time.

Until the Coroner releases more information there can be only speculation as to the cause of death, although the police have stated that they are not treating the death as suspicious. This is not unusual — other non-suspicious deaths due to medical episodes, such as that of River Phoenix, have seen us wait for Coroners’ findings after toxicology results and so on.

The unfortunate Mr Fischer is alleged to be one of the reportedly many guests at the local luxury psychiatric facility that Jackson and Lawler have come to know on a personal and intimate basis.

Neighbours claim to have heard a loud party at the residence the night prior to police being called. Maybe this is all part of the apparent therapy that Michael Lawler has been allegedly offering to people at the psychiatric facility?

Lawler has suddenly started following the ‘teachings of Jesus of Nazareth’ and is now doing what he can to help those in need. Yesterday, the public saw evidence of this when Lawler finally decided that it was the taxpayer that was needy and resigned from his $430K taxpayer-funded position to which he rarely bothered showing up.

However, I would question whether this decision is more about self-interest rather than an act of repentance after a quick chat with Jesus of Nazareth on the bat-phone.

Lawler’s resignation comes neatly sandwiched between two significant days. The day prior being the day a dead body was discovered at his house, and the day following being the day he was due to respond to parliament regarding the findings of an independent report into his conduct by former Federal Court Judge Peter Heeley. I tend to think it was more related to the latter.

Lawler had sought more time to respond to these findings. Who wouldn’t while the taxpayer was paying you approximately $1,190 a day to do nothing?

I wonder what was in that report for which Lawler apparently thought he had no excuse.

What is truly sad is that a man who most would say doesn’t deserve a golden handshake will, no doubt, also be receiving a hefty pay-out care of the taxpayer.

When current Employment Minister Michaela Cash made the announcement of Lawler’s resignation in the Senate yesterday, my first thought was “I wonder how much this will cost the taxpayer?”

Lawler has rarely shown up for work and when asked to respond he has the hide to ask for more time while continuing to collect full pay.

I wonder if the taxpayer will ever see the report into Lawler’s behaviour for which they paid, or if we will ever know the details of the negotiations surrounding his resignation with Michaela Cash’s office. Cash is, of course, a factional ally of her predecessor Eric Abetz — someone who was reportedly very close to Jackson.

Many have speculated that it is only through Lawler’s relationship with the far-right faction of the Liberal Party that he has been able to stay in his high-profile position as Vice President of the Fair Work Commission. Readers here have been calling for his resignation for years over his involvement in the Health Services Union saga.

The Australian have been calling for his resignation for his involvement in the financial affairs of David Rofe QC for the best part of a year. Tony Abbott, when he was PM, famously became embroiled in a slanging match when he tried to handball the responsibility for Lawler’s removal back to Fair Work. All of this, however, has not stopped Four Corners from taking the credit for the resignation after the program’s brilliant but belated exposé of the King and Queen of Jacksonville last year.

One thing that did sneak its way into the News Corp reports, yesterday, was that Jackson and Lawler have apparently tied the knot. It is unclear whether Barnaby Joyce and George Brandis were there to join in the festivities like they were for Jackson and Lawler’s former housemate and failed PR man Michael Smith.

However, news of the marriage makes me wonder if perhaps while the organised crime division of the joint Victorian and Federal Police look into Kathy Jackson’s behaviour, and while the Liberals lament their loss of an inside man at Fair Work Australia, there is an application for a Greek passport being processed.

Mykonos anyone?

Peter Wicks is an ALP member and former NSW State Labor candidate. You can follow Peter on Twitter @madwixxy.

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